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I started this blog post as a general applause to classic poster design. But one brand in particular kept cropping up - Olivetti. Their posters epitomise that classic mid-century cool. Mimicked and used as inspiration continuously since, some class the posters as works of art; just goes to show the cult that surrounds them.
For a (very) brief history lesson, the company was founded by Italian Camillo Olivetti in 1908 and became one of the top manufacturers of typewriters in its time. It’s still a pretty big company now, but with fewer typewriters.
In terms of its designers, the more well-known, Giovanni Pintori, was head of the art department for Olivetti, receiving numerous awards. For their posters, he specialised in reimagining Olivetti’s typewriters into geometric shapes, including birds and eggs for their symbolism of all things new, just because he could. He brought other designers into the mix, including Swiss Walter Ballmer, another key designer and part creator of the Olivetti logo (which remains unchanged since).
While making these beautifully designed typewriters, it’s the posters that everyone raved (and still does) about. You could say it’s pretty rare for a poster to stand the test of time better than the product it’s promoting. And that’s all down to design. Each one is pretty unique; it’s only Pintori’s designs which follow the similar style of a white background with multicoloured lines.
The detail that Olivetti and its designers went into for their advertising in a bid to stand out is clear in its Lettera 22 (which in itself is still very popular) promotional campaign. With so many completely different posters for one specific product, I lost count after 24. Each poster’s one-of-a-kind graphic demonstrates what Olivetti was all about - a bold, striking design, with a touch of effortless cool.
Olivetti is by no means the first, but rather one of the more famous early pioneers in creating an aesthetic for their brand; its poster design was reflected in its displays and showrooms, its buildings’ architecture and interior. Look at brands today - Apple’s simplified and minimalist ethos mimics the same techniques used by Olivetti.
Just goes to show how important a good advertising design is - if people are still talking about your posters decades later, you know you’ve cracked it.
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